By Leigh Torbin
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The Notre Dame men's golf team opened the final round of the annual Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic in second place and eight strokes behind UTEP. The Irish started fast and had the lead shortly into their collective rounds. After battling back-and-forth over a tense back nine, the Miners came out on top by a single stroke.
Notre Dame carded a 268 on Tuesday and a 54-hole total of 836 (both school records since 1966) but the Miners won the title by tallying 835 (-5). The course played as a 6,713-yard par-70 for the three-round event. Notre Dame and UTEP were the lone under-par schools in the 15-member field. Ball State claimed third place with a plus-nine 849.
Player of the Tournament
Notre Dame's Blake Barens' consistency was rewarded as he claimed medalist honors with his school record 201 (66-67-68, -9). Barens was the lone golfer in the 87-member field to shoot three consecutive under-par rounds and it helped him win the title by just a single stroke over UTEP's Frederik Dreier who carded a 202 (70-65-67, -8). The tandem was tied at minus-eight with two holes to play well clear of the closest competitors but Barens birdied 17 and hung on for the one-stroke win as both players parred 18.
Notre Dame's Results
Each of Notre Dame's 11 players were in action at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic. In addition to the five whom counted towards the team score, six more competed as individuals.
1. Blake Barens (66-67-68=201, -9)
T15. Miguel Delgado (75-71-66=212, +2)
T20. Ben Albin (71-74-68=213, +3)
T26. Thomas Steve (73-76-66=215, +5)
T29. Davis Lamb (76-71-69=216, +6)
T15. Matthew Rushton (71-74-67=212, +2)*
T26. Liam Cox (74-70-71=215, +5)*
T29. Hunter Ostrom (71-79-66=216, +6)*
T29. Kevin Conners (73-72-66=216, +6)*
T37. Jens Verhey (73-71-73=217, +7)*
T47. John Felitto (73-76-70=219, +9)*
* Competing as individuals
Coach Kubinski Says
"I'm thrilled for our individual tournament champion, Blake Barens," said Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski. "It's great to have a senior finish up his final home fall tournament with a win. He has really come of age as a player, especially these last several months. I think what he did at the US Amateur in August, making match play, was a huge boost of confidence. Beyond that though, I love see a young man going about his business in a way we can all be proud of. He's working hard, a great teammate and committed to improving all the time.
"As tough as it is to lose by one, I couldn't be more proud of our guys. They showed what Fightin' Irish means today, in giving everything they had, storming from eight back to give us a chance on the last hole. I don't recall us shooting 268 before, so that was an epic run. Hats off to UTEP. They built enough of a lead, playing well, to hold us off. What we showed though today is what a coach is looking to see from a rising team. We'll take a great deal of confidence from today and start focusing on Georgetown.
"We want to thank everyone involved in us hosting this week, on a job very well done. Our Warren Golf Course staff and amazing volunteers really knocked it out of the park for us."
The Irish will be back in action next week when the team heads to Four Streams Golf Club in Beallsville, Maryland for the Georgetown Intercollegiate. The event will see 36 holes of play on Monday, Oct. 17 with 18 holes of action on Tuesday, Oct. 18.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame's women's basketball and men's golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.